The Big Q’s
April 15, 2010 13 Comments
Man, I just thought of a much better title for my post on the city thanks to this one (The Big Queue). Sigh, inspiration often comes late.
This will be the final set of questions from my time at Mythic on Friday with Carrie (or Dagny as I will forever think of her now). This was an interesting conversation we had, in two parts. It’s very clear when speaking with her that she is passionate about the game as a whole, and that her outlook on gaming is slightly different from some of the others we had spoken with. She, by nature of her new role, has to take a broader, long term look at the game as a whole, and craft where she sees it going. Frequently when answering a question, she would close her eyes, and you could see them darting back and forth as if reviewing documents or information on a computer screen. It struck me as a form of conscious REM sleep, where there is so much information that it is necessary to block out the surroundings and visually sort her thoughts and memory. So, here is the low-down, I’ll be SW as usual, and Ms. Gouskos will be CG.
SW: So, you have some pretty ambitious goals that you’ve set out to do, and we all appreciate them. The monthly letter from you in particular and you’ve been able keep up with it. How important was it for you to make that type of decision?
CG: There’s always a batch of things that we’ll never be able to talk about. It often comes up because it’s the things people want to know about the most. Like the *cough*ex-word*cough*, the dirty word, and various other things that continuously come up over and over again, that we have to say no comment to. It’s really been very important to us, that we don’t’ say anything that we can’t completely stand behind. There are a lot of factors, a LOT of factors that can contribute to something being pulled out. Even after its in-game, on PTS, and the last thing we want to do is come across like we over-promised. That’s just horrifying. We’ve seen that with the armor-sets, I’ll say that straight out. We went, “Here’s this cool awesome stuff.” and there was such a mixed reaction, that we went “Oh God, what do we do?” The answer was, we couldn’t do anything until we knew how to kind of appease everybody. Unfortunately, the solution to do so, has such a burden on development costs, that when would you way that against other REAL changes that have more of a meaningful impact on the game.
SO, all of that brings me around to communication can be a really slippery slope. It was important to me for two reasons. I wanted to establish a consistency of message, in that, we’re not hiding. Even if we can’t say what you want us to say, because it’s not the right time, or we don’t have the right answer, or any of those things. I didn’t want to hide, because it doesn’t help anything. I also wanted to set up an established communication that is completely 100% honest. So I think in the past, we’ve run into some problems (not going to throw anyone under the bus), where the producer’s letter or monthly communication will occur, and then the thing won’t go in the game. It’s not necessarily the producer’s fault, per-se, because as I said, there are SO many different factors. What I wanted to do, was go, I’m going to setup a communication in that everything I say we are going to address. It does put me in a precarious situation because it means we do have to deal with the armor sets sooner rather than later. It does mean we have to deal with the loading tip contest, sometime in the near future. It does put a timeline on things, but I needed to do that, because I needed to gain the trust of the players. That was kind of the goal of that.
It’s a little challenging because I want to have stuff in there that is meaningful and sexy. And I’ve definitely put things in there that the community team has taken out, and gone, “No, no, no. Don’t say that yet!” Actually my last one had a pretty big thing I had to take out because they didn’t want me to say it till I was 100% right.
SW: This is going to be a crazy broad question, but where do you see the game going. Where do you want it to be? Obviously mega-open.
CG: Yeah, really open. I’m really happy with our user base right now. Because, we have, they’re angry and venomous and all that stuff. But I’m really happy because we’ve been noticing, especially in the last couple months, a lot of positivity, and a lot more activity in game in various ways, and that makes me really happy. For many, many reasons. So, the one thing I would say about it though, our players ARE players, so they forgive some of the things in game that maybe a new player wouldn’t forgive. I want to change that, not so much for the new players, but for the existing players. Of course the goal is always to have more people come play the game. But I don’t care about that. What I care about is improving the quality of the game for those currently playing it, because they’re actually playing it, and therefore are the ones we care about the most. So, where I see it in the next few years, I’d like to start by improving the quality of the game as it is. <hesitation> And by…giving our players as many things to do, in as ambiguous a way as I can say it.
SW: So what you’re saying is, you’re really looking to get a refinement. It seems like from your other posts you really want to get rid of bugs, and bugs annoy the hell out of you.
CG: Yes and there are bugs in Warhammer, and some that embarrass me. Like, they do. I know that a lot of our players don’t care. They want more things to do. I understand that, but there are some things that we just need to look at and refine it just a little better. Some of that stuff will impact the players, not just a bug fix, but we make something that used to be tedious work better. Added some convenience to the game. That being said, I’m not interested in (cell phone alerting her she’s late for a meeting) continuing to screw with old systems, until they’re completely a mish mash of whatever. Obviously we want to expand upon and build on systems.
That might sound wrong because of what happened with scenarios and with the city. Let me say, continue too. For ever and ever and ever. We’re going to come back and look at scenarios again and refine and do more stuff, and have more interesting mechanics, and weekend war fronts, and different rewards and different rule sets, and all of that stuff based on the information that we’re gathering right now and evaluating. At the short term, until we have compelling reason why, we’re not going to do like, a scenario revamp, or a change in the way scenarios feed into the campaign and all that stuff. That’s not what I’m interested in doing. If there’s a reason we need to do it, so this is my “That’s not guaranteed”, we will. I am interested in providing new things for the players to do, and new ways for players experience the game, and…new content, and new all of that stuff.
Gaarawar: Choked on that one a little bit.
CG: Yeah, I did.
SW: So, what would you find is the more important of choices?
CG: In the short term, the former, in the mid to long-term, the latter. And I’m not defining short-term so you’re not getting no dates out of me buddy! (Cell phone alerts her again)
Mykiel of PODCAST asked a few follow ups here, after which she left, and then came back minutes later.
SW: What would be the biggest issue that you want fixed, right now. Whether in game, company, anything at all.
CG: *sigh* That’s a good question. The problem is it’s Sophie’s choice right, there’s kind of a targeted attack of many different things. For example, the answer to that question if you’d asked me four weeks ago would have been buffs dropping. Three weeks ago, it was keep doors, which as of next Tuesday’s maintenance should be resolved. Again, hopefully maybe. 1 week ago, would have been AFKs in scenarios, but we’re on track with a code solution that we’re fairly happy with. Originally pre-1.3.5, but a bug was in there, so we had to take it out. Yay, for QA.
So, because AFKs were the one, the answer, I don’t know that I’ve picked a next. Let me pretend like I can pick a next, where I would go, based on what I’ve heard from the team, mostly QA, CS, and community on this, where I ask for the top 10 issues. I would probably say, well loot bugs, …well, lock-out timer issues. Basically, how we pick those things is how frequently does it happen, how many people does it affect, and scale down from there.
Oh, I know one, PQs. PvE. Let me put this out there. There are PQs in PvE, that, well, don’t work. Don’t want you to tear me apart for doing PvE in an RvR focused game. So, one of the problems, probably the most wide ranging ones, if there’s a problem with something spawning under the world, or in a tree, or if you kill something out of the range, too many PQs were created with exactly the number of things you need. So if you need 12 stepping stones, there are exactly 12 stepping stones, so if one spawns into a tree by accident, because something is off in the spawning radius or a tree got moved in the last zone crawl, whatever, it is a problem. It can be resolved by us putting more than the number of the items in the PQ.
A lot of the problem is, we’ll get a report from CS that says, “blahdy blah PQ doesn’t work”. This is the bug we got. We go in, and it works. So, what happened. Did the person kill the mob outside the PQ, did the item not spawn, which item. That’s a painstaking process, crawling through each stage, to figure out where each went wrong.
This led to a conversation about the inherent problems are with the bug report tool, driven a lot by one of the bloggers that I’ll leave them to write about.
SW: On how to incentivize ORvR more, to encourage players to enter the lakes. It sucks saying it, but maybe PvE type objectives or things to do in the lakes would be good?
CG: That’s always kind of the key thing that was the brilliance of the RvR DAoC, the best XP. If you wanted the sweet XP you would go and kill the snow crabs out in <something> and you would be killed every time by someone ganking you, and that was exciting and fun.
Further conversation was had about the Mailbox Guardian Squad, and AFK’er in SCs, then she left us.
A big thanks to Carrie for being accessible and incredibly friendly and forthright in all of her answers. I truly believe that with her in her current position, as well as all of the other great people there, Warhammer has a great future. To everyone I met during my time there, thank you for being hospitable and more welcoming, warm, humorous, and just more fun to be around than I had any expectation of.